Hard-working fire crew kept busy with blazes and crashes

Hebden Bridge firemen  had to attend this crash at Charlestown in 1962, submitted by Mrs Glenys Clegg whose father, Donald Sutcliffe, was Station Officer at Hebden Bridge Fire Station in the late 1960s
Hebden Bridge firemen had to attend this crash at Charlestown in 1962, submitted by Mrs Glenys Clegg whose father, Donald Sutcliffe, was Station Officer at Hebden Bridge Fire Station in the late 1960s

THESE stunning images of Hebden Bridge firefighters at work in the 1960s show what busy working lives they had in that decade.

They have been sent to us by Hebden Bridge reader Glenys Clegg and are from photographs collected by her father Donald Sutcliffe, who served at the station at that time, and was Station Officer there in the late 1960s.

Back then, the area’s firefighters were very busy indeed, as a look through the Hebden Bridge Times files for more information about the two incidents pictured demonstrated.

Even though there was less traffic on the road than now, lorry crashes were fairly regular occurances in the early 60s, and with the town’s mills largely still in use but getting older, building fires were common.

This lorry crash happened in May 1962, at Thistlebottom, Charlestown, and the lamp post which can be seen toppled over in the photograph probably saved the life of retired bus conductor Mr Milton Sutcliffe, as it stopped the lorry just two yards from where he was standing.

It also stopped shy of the corner home of Mr William E. Short - where Mrs Short and her two daughters were in the living room when the accident happened.

The driver of the lorry, from an Otley firm, said he had been forced to swerve to avoid another lorry travelling in the opposite direction. Even just looking at these two years’ files, it wasn’t the only time something like this happened.

The Crossley Mill, New Road, fire shown on the other “incident” photograph happened in December 1964, just six weeks after another major mill fire which destroyed Calder Mill.

It had been rented by Thomas Ratcliffe and Co Ltd, of Moderna Mill, Mytholmroyd, to store blankets and an estimated £40,000 worth of stock (and remember this is 1964 prices) went up in the flames.

In all 40 firemen using seven appliances battled the fire which was brought under control in a couple of hours, but nearby householders had to be evacuated to safety.

The mill, on which a nursery and car park stand, near to the town’s marina, took its name from a Hebden Bridge manufacturing family.

These are the sort of incidents many of the crew, pictured around 1960, dealt with in hectic working lives in a decade of change.